For those in HR, critical thinking is an imperative skill to have. It’s considered to be one of the top five most desirable attributes for anyone in HR.

That shouldn’t come as a surprise: your job involves making important decisions concerning your employees, which can have a profound effect on their whole career and your business. Whether you’re hiring new talent, negotiating pay rises, or deciding how to deal with employee misconduct, your ability to make critical, measured decisions is vital.

But what is critical thinking? Linder Elder, a prominent scholar on the subject, describes it as “Self-guided, self-disciplined, thinking which attempts to reason at the highest level of quality in a fair-minded way. People who think critically consistently attempt to live rationally, reasonably, empathetically.” In short, it’s the ability to analyse something objectively to reach a logical conclusion. To think ‘uncritically’ is to be biased and irrational.

With that in mind, we’ve identified five useful resources that can help improve your critical thinking skills.

Critical thinking, does it matter? – TED talk

Yet to be convinced about the merits of critical thinking? In this engaging TED talk, Bart Millar explores how and why people fall prey to bad ideas that have a detrimental impact on themselves or others. By using examples such as: the first ever pyramid scheme, cough medicine containing morphine, and the Jonestown Massacre of 1978, he convincingly argues the case for developing your critical thinking skills.

How to think, not what to think – TED talk

“Never trust a brain, especially your own….We like to think of ourselves as objective and clever, but we are all, to some extent, flawed ignorant and deluded….but happily we can do something about this, by learning critical thinking skills”. Ex-creative advertiser Jesse Richardson has spent his career manipulating people into buying things they don’t need, and therefore knows more than most about how critical thinking skills can help us become more self-aware and less susceptible.

5 tips to improving your critical thinking – TED video

A structured approach to reviewing information can be enormously helpful, especially when you are faced with a multitude of choices. In this short video, Samantha Agoos talks through a 5-step process that can help you improve your chance of making the best possible choices.

Critical reasoning for beginners – University of Oxford podcast

Hosted by Marianne Talbot, Director of Studies and Philosophy at the University of Oxford, this six-part critical thinking podcast for beginners is a great way to start developing your decision-making skills. You will learn about arguments and how to identify them, how to evaluate them, and how not to mistake bad arguments for good.

Logical and Critical Thinking – Future Learn

For anyone looking to take a deeper dive into critical thinking, this free online course hosted by the University of Auckland aims to help you learn how to: identify and avoid common thinking mistakes that lead to formation of bad beliefs; recognise, reconstruct and evaluate arguments; and use basic logical tools to analyse arguments. The course is perfect for anyone interested in developing their critical thinking and applying them to the work place.

Critical thinking isn’t just for HR. A World Economic Forum report has listed critical thinking as the second most important skill for the future world of work. Helping leaders – and employees – develop in this area can massively help businesses progress and develop.

Have we missed any useful resources? What’s worked for you? What are you doing to help others in your organisation develop this essential capability? Get in touch and let us know.


Chris Wells author image

Chris Wells

A graduate of the University of Birmingham, Chris is an experienced marketing manager who now works for prestigious publishing firm HarperCollins.